Do you have an idea for an awesome feature we should add… or hate the way we’re currently doing something? Share your ideas and suggestions here.
I have been feeling a bit jaded with Photosynth as of late and I think I know why. While I'm impressed with the development of the Silverlight viewer and its ability to be used by a broader audience, it simply can't compare to the fluid motion of the direct 3D viewer. The point cloud / picture view is amazing. It is so much more enjoyable than the Silverlight experience (even with the top view and the highlights features.) Will the Silverlight viewer eventually have the same frame rate and ability to keep all of the points from the point cloud on the screen when the images move (in the future?) Thank you for your work. I enjoy using Photosynth but I do think that the 3D viewer really did draw me in and I don't get the sense that the Silverlight viewer is as compelling.
Consider my synth "The Frog" Once the point cloud has loaded, the picture / cloud view along with the frame rate and cool transitions just make the more compelling.
This sort of sentiment has certainly been expressed before and that was back when the Silverlight 2 version of the Photosynth viewer was being used, rather than the current Silverlight 3 version of the Photosynth viewer - meaning performance was worse than it is now.
Basically, what needs to happen is for Silverlight to be able to use people's graphics card|video card|GPU. Until this happens the performance is going to be determined by your computer's CPU.
There is a bit of bad news that David Gedye shared a little while ago, pointing out that hardware accelerated particle rendering isn't exactly at the top of the Silverlight team's list of things to add to Silverlight. You can read his post at the end of the comments on this blog post:
That said, Silverlight's graphical capabilities are always improving and we haven't even seen what the Photosynth team can do with Silverlight 4 to improve the Silverlight viewer's performance.
I'm still waiting to see what sort of 3D support Silverlight 5 will have. In order for the Silverlight team to pull off any hardware acceleration (they already do some for video playback and very basic perspective transformations of flat rectangular objects), they have to write the feature such that it uses OpenGL behind the scenes for Mac Silverlight and Direct3D behind the scenes for Windows Silverlight and performs the exact same function with the same performance for both when programmers write a Silverlight app. It's a very challenging problem for them, but I'm sure that they're working hard on it.
There's also a possibility that with the birth of the HTML5 Canvas element, combined with something like WebGL, that we'll see things move in that direction instead, requiring no plugin whatsoever, so long as you're using a modern web browser, although that would require yet another complete rewrite of the Photosynth viewer for the Photosynth team.
This should get you the performance of the Direct3D viewer back as well. Interestingly, the timeframe for that happening is probably going to be about the same time that the Silverlight team get 3D up and running, so either way it won't be more than a year or two before everyone is getting the kind of fluid framerate that we Direct3D users have been enjoying since 2008.
Real 3D performance is even more important, going forward, as the point clouds are only going to get more dense and|or be replaced with polygonal models. Check this video for more on that:
I guess I'll wrap it up by just providing a list of other places that the Silverlight vs. Direct3D issue has popped up - many of which where Photosynth team members or representatives have spoken to the effect that they will be improving the performance of the Silverlight version of the Photosynth viewer over time or given some other insight to the current state of performance. I'll just list the team members' names, regardless of what they were saying.
Darius Monsef: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/photosynth/archive/2009/04/09/new-features-highlights-crossplatform-viewer.aspx
Darius Monsef, Mark (douglas), Tony Ernst, Joshua Podolak (marvin): http://photosynth.net/discussion.aspx?cat=ceca0f30-0f7c-4468-811a-32b623ea8563&dis=f8ba0ebe-751e-427c-9942-e4e2c1406465
Darius Monsef: http://photosynth.net/discussion.aspx?cat=01b6f15f-42eb-49cb-a221-ed56615e1c47&dis=77ff7ea7-e5ba-4ba2-9050-b2d946a22d29
Tony Ernst: http://photosynth.net/discussion.aspx?cat=ceca0f30-0f7c-4468-811a-32b623ea8563&dis=8a81701c-e79b-4ce4-b869-40fb6674dd2f
Jonathan Dughi: http://photosynth.net/discussion.aspx?cat=a6bad539-de7d-4a16-8c4d-b143f7d5f984&dis=69d18cda-7210-4a17-aa8a-34c50e6ba275
Jonathan Dughi: http://photosynth.net/discussion.aspx?cat=e57bdda7-ff98-40a1-b2ae-529b0213c2b8&dis=dae44c6a-556d-438c-be7d-fdf93511cece
Joshua Podolak: http://getsatisfaction.com/livelabs/topics/direct3d_viewer_dead
Oh, back to your first post, in my experience, you can increase the current Silverlight 3 viewer's performance quite a bit by simply making your window smaller.
As to Photos+Points mode, it's still available in Silverlight (just press the [P] key, after clicking the viewer), but you're right - the only way to have all the points on all the time is to use the D3D viewer.
I am curious about your second post where you say, "...Once the point cloud has loaded, the picture / cloud view along with the frame rate and cool transitions just make the more compelling.". I understand what you're talking about as far as all points always displaying and the frame rate, but which transitions are missing from the Silverlight viewer? The only one that comes to my mind is the transition from 3D to 2D view in D3D.
I was referencing the fact that most of the points disappear when you transition from one photo to the next with the Silverlight viewer while the D3D viewer keeps all of the points on (giving you a very real sense of the object and its relationship to a particular photo.)
Thank you for the links. Interesting presentation by Blaise. I understand the desire to reach a greater audience, but I've encountered people that are new to Photosynth that are underwhelmed by the experience and I think the difference for me is that my starting point was the D3D viewer.
Aye, I feel the same. I'll be interested to see what the Silverlight 4 and 5 versions of the Photosynth viewer bring.
An official update from the team of what to expect would be great, but if not, I hope that you could glean some of their intentions from the links above.
Well... looks like today we're seeing the first version of the viewer built in Silverlight 4. We'll probably see one or two more updates to the viewer before Silverlight 5 comes out if the last couple of releases are anything to go by, so keep your fingers crossed, but I'm mainly interested in seeing what new graphics capabilities Silverlight 5 will have when (or if) it's talked about later this year at PDC 2010.
Here's the announcement about now using SL4: http://photosynth.net/discussion.aspx?cat=e57bdda7-ff98-40a1-b2ae-529b0213c2b8&dis=89c922b4-4136-4d13-b355-dd464be7a686
It's too bad that the Bing Maps team couldn't snatch up these guys if their technology is really legitimate:
Those are some really big and really fast point clouds.